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UAlbany Professor Martha Rozett to Lead “Synagogue Scholars” Book Discussion

B’nai Sholom Reform Congregation concludes its 2017-18 “Synagogue Scholars” series with a book discussion by Professor Martha Rozett of Their Promised Land: My Grandparents in Love and War by Ian Buruma.

Rozett will lead the conversation immediately following the congregation’s Friday, February 9, Shabbat service.  The service and program, open to all who wish to worship and learn, begin at 8 p.m.  B’nai Sholom is located at 420 Whitehall Road, Albany, New York.

Buruma’s account of his grandparents’ marriage is told partly through letters they sent one another from 1915 to 1945.  This is a story of assimilation, sometimes uneasy, not only because the family was affected by anti-Jewish prejudice, but also because they were very aware of the different kinds of Jews they encountered.  The Schlesinger and Regensburg families, says Buruma, “were English in the way their German Jewish ancestors were German…more so, or at least more self-consciously, than the ‘natives.’”  Buruma is a distinguished journalist who recently was named editor of The New York Times Review of Books, to which he has contributed for three decades.

Rozett’s own most recent work is When People Wrote Letters: A Family Chronicle (The Troy Book Makers, 2011), a story told through family letters and autobiographies about the travels and careers of her mother and great aunt and about a romance threatened by the differences between New England Episcopalians and New York Jews.  A Shakespeare scholar, she authored Constructing a World: Shakespeare’s England and the New Historical Fiction, a look at the way historical novelists challenge our assumptions about the past, and Talking Back to Shakespeare, which examined the way Shakespeare’s plays have been appropriated and transformed.  Rozett is professor emerita at the University at Albany.  She frequently teaches contemporary historical fiction, including fiction on the history of the Jews, and lectures in the community at Bethlehem Institute for Lifelong Learning and at the Albany Public Library.   Rozett holds a doctorate in English from the University of Michigan.

Begun in 2004, the “Synagogue Scholars” series spotlights individuals in the Capital Region Jewish community who are recognized scholars in their fields.  The popular series will resume in the fall.

For more information, visit or contact the B’nai Sholom office at or 518-482-5283.


Founded in 1971, B’nai Sholom Reform Congregation in Albany is a home for contemporary Reform Judaism in the Capital Region.  Nearly 130 diverse households from eight counties seek religious, educational and social fulfillment at B’nai Sholom.  For information about B’nai Sholom and the benefits of belonging, visit  or contact the office at 518-482-5283 or

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